Kyiv’s critical infrastructure hit by Russian rocket attacks; Ukraine to set up winter shelters

UN report details horrifying Ukrainian accounts of abuse and torture in Russian prisons

Editor’s note: The following article contains graphic material detailing reports of torture and sexual violence.

The window in the door frames the corridor at the District Police Department used by Russian occupiers for torture, Balakliia, Kharkiv Region, northeastern Ukraine.

Vyacheslav Madiyevskyy | Ukrinform | Future Publishing | Getty Images

A report commissioned by the United Nations found that Russian forces have committed widespread abuse against prisoners captured during the invasion of Ukraine.

In preparing the report, investigators conducted 159 interviews over the course of eight months. 

Ukrainian prisoners described so-called “admission procedures” upon arrival at the place of internment, which involved prolonged beatings, strangling, twisting or breaking of joints or bones, attacks by dog, tasering, mock executions, sexual violence, stripping and use of stress positions. 

Russian guards also inserted burning cigarettes in a victim’s nostrils, hung prisoners by hands or legs for extended periods of time and applied tourniquet-like devices to painfully constrict blood circulation to limbs, according to the report.

Female prisoners told investigators they were subjected to invasive examinations during admission procedures in the presence of male guards. The women prisoners also said they were forced to undress and walk naked down hallways.

Read the full story here.

— Amanda Macias

Pope links plight of Ukrainians to Stalin’s ‘genocide’

Pope Francis arrives at the United Nations in New York, September 25, 2015.

Tony Gentile | Reuters

Pope Francis linked the suffering of Ukrainians now to the 1930s “genocide artificially caused by Stalin,” when the Soviet leader was blamed for creating a man-made famine in the country believed to have killed more than 3 million people.

Francis’ linking of the plight of Ukrainian civilians today to those killed by starvation 90 years ago, and his willingness to call it a “genocide” and squarely blame Josef Stalin, marked a sharp escalation in papal rhetoric against Russia. As of this year, only 17 countries have officially recognized the famine, known as the Holodomor, according to the Holodomor Museum in Kyiv.

In comments at the end of his weekly Wednesday general audience, Francis renewed calls for prayers for the “terrible suffering for the dear and martyred Ukrainian people.” He recalled that Saturday marks the 90th anniversary of the start of the famine, which Ukraine commemorates every fourth Saturday of November with a Day of Memory.

— The Associated Press

Ukraine receives 36 prisoners in its most recent exchange

A view shows a line of cars near blocks of flats destroyed during Ukraine-Russia conflict, as evacuees leave the besieged port city of Mariupol, Ukraine March 17, 2022.

Alexander Ermochenko | Reuters

Ukraine and Russia engaged in another prisoner exchange, with Ukraine receiving 36 prisoners who had spent eight months in Russian captivity, said Andriy Yermak, the head of the office of the president of Ukraine.

The Ukrainian prisoners included 35 servicemen, including national guardsmen, order guards, Navy soldiers, and one serviceman from the armed forces, as well as one civilian whose leg was amputated, Yermak said.

“Among those released were the fighters who defended Mariupol and were on ‘Azovstal,'” Yermak said, referring to the steel factory held down for a considerable time by Ukrainian forces amid a brutal Russian siege. “As well as national guardsmen who were captured at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant in the first days of the invasion.”

This is one of the smaller prisoner swaps that has taken place in recent months. Nonetheless, Ukraine is continuing its efforts to bring home soldiers, many of whom fought in Mariupol before Russia’s seizure of the city.

“We will bring everyone back,” Yermak said.

— Rocio Fabbro

Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant goes into ‘full blackout mode’

A satellite imagery shows an overview of Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Ukraine, August 29, 2022.

Maxar Technologies | via Reuters

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant went into “full blackout mode,” relying completely on diesel generation, Ukraine’s national nuclear power company Energoatom reported.

The shutdown followed an onslaught of Russian shelling, which Ukrainian officials said hit critical infrastructure across the country.

Emergency protection measures were also activated at the Rivne, South Ukraine and Khmelnytskyi nuclear power plants, resulting in the automatic disconnection of all power units at the plants. They are currently operating in what is known as “project mode,” without generation into the power system, according to Energoatom.

The background radiation at all the plants remains normal, Energoatom said. “As soon as the operation of the power system is normalized, the supply of electricity from the NPP will be resumed,” the company added.

It is the second time this month that the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, has been completely disconnected from the power system, and at least the fifth time since Russia took control of the plant in March. The International Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly expressed concerns about shelling around the plant, calling for a protection zone to prevent what would be a catastrophic accident.

— Rocio Fabbro

Biden authorizes $400 million for Ukraine defense aid

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks during a Cabinet Meeting at the White House on September 06, 2022 in Washington, DC. Biden was seated next to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Kevin Dietsch | Getty Images

U.S. President Joe Biden authorized a drawdown of up to $400 million in defense aid for Ukraine. The package includes “defense articles and services of the Department of Defense, and military education and training,” according to a White House memorandum.

This additional sum is only a fraction of the gargantuan aid the U.S. has provided to Ukraine, reaching $19.7 billion since the start of the Biden administration.

“The artillery ammunition, precision fires, air defense missiles, and tactical vehicles that we are providing will best serve Ukraine on the battlefield,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said of the drawdown. “We will continue to support Ukraine for as long as it takes, so it can continue to defend itself and be in the strongest possible position at the negotiating table when the time comes.”

Last week, the White House asked Congress to approve $37.7 billion in aid to Ukraine. Nearly $22 billion of the sum would be set aside for military equipment and replacements for weapons that were already sent to the country by the Pentagon.

Biden also requested authorization from Congress to send $7 billion in weaponry to Ukraine.

— Rocio Fabbro

Emergency shutdowns take place in ‘all regions’ as energy facilities already hit by Russian missiles

A view of road during night as street lamps are turned off to save energy and money amid Russia-Ukraine war in Kyiv, Ukraine on November 20, 2022.

Metin Aktas | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Russian missile strikes hit energy infrastructure in much of Ukraine, prompting emergency shutdowns across “all regions” according to Ukrainian electricity supplier Ukrenergo.

“This is a necessary step to protect power grids from additional technological accidents and support the operation of the power system,” Ukrenergo said in a statement.

While repair crews and state emergency services are prepared to address damage after the end of the air raid alert, harsh weather conditions including frost and freezing rain in some regions could prolong the restoration process.

Officials in Kyiv told residents to monitor Telegram for updates on the air raid alert, as the electric alert system is out of service due to the power outages. Regional and municipal administrations are bracing for more strikes, warning residents to remain sheltered until officials say otherwise.

— Rocio Fabbro

Russian air strikes hit operations at Ukrainian nuclear power plants

A number of units were shut down at the Pivdennoukrainsk nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine because of a loss of power during Russian air strikes across Ukraine, Ukraine’s nuclear energy firm Energoatom said.

“Everything is fine with the station. There is nowhere to generate electricity,” an Energoatom spokesperson said of the plant in the Mykolaiv region.

A local official said units were also not operating at the Khmelnytskyi nuclear power plant in western Ukraine.

“Stopping the units. There is no electricity, water, possibly heat,” Oleksandr Suprunyuk, the mayor of the city of Netishyn which is near the plant, wrote on his Facebook page.

— Reuters

Officials push to officially end partial mobilization in Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence, outside Moscow, Russia, October 28, 2022. 

Mikhail Metzel | Sputnik | Reuters

Members of the opposition party in the northwestern Russian region of Karelia asked President Vladimir Putin to issue a decree officially ending the partial mobilization of troops.

Russia’s controversial partial mobilization of 300,000 citizens, announced in late September, caused an exodus of men from the country and sparked protests against the draft. A month later, Putin and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced the completion of the mobilization. However, no official legislative changes were made.

Emilia Slabunova and Inna Boluchevskaya, deputies from the Yabloko party in Karelia’s legislative assembly, said in an appeal that “the public speeches of the defense minister, the statements of the president and his press secretary that ‘the end has been set. Partial mobilization completed’ are not normative acts and therefore have no legal force.”

They also noted that parts of the original mobilization decree continue to operate, despite its announced completion.

“This fact, the deputies believe, affects the psychological state of society, is a source of anxiety and increased anxiety in Russian families and work collectives, and many people have health problems,” they said.

“Announcements must be supported by a decree,” they added.

— Rocio Fabbro

Russia relaunches Soviet-era Moskvich car brand

The relaunch of Moskvich vehicles comes as Russia strives for a self-sufficient economy as the country’s finances continue to be choked by sanctions and other ramifications of its invasion of Ukraine.

Future Publishing / Contributor / Getty Images

Russia relaunched production of the Soviet-era Moskvich car at a former Renault factory, according to truckmaker Kamaz.

It comes as the Kremlin strives for a self-sufficient economy as the country’s finances continue to be choked by Western sanctions and other ramifications of its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

Read the full story here.

— Hannah Ward-Glenton

Russian rocket attack reportedly leaves Kyiv without water or electricity

Ukrainian authorities reportedly said the capital city of Kyiv was left without electricity after Russian airstrikes targeted critical infrastructure, while the water supply had also been cut off.

A two-story building was damaged as a result of the rocket attack, with Ukraine’s regional military administration reporting that three people were killed and six were injured.

— Sam Meredith

Rescuers search a destroyed two-storey maternity building in Zaporizhzhia

A picture shows a room of the destroyed two-storey building of the maternity ward in the town of Vilnyansk, southern Zaporizhzhia region on November 23, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Katerina Klochko | AFP | Getty Images

Rescuers search a destroyed two-story maternity building in the town of Vilnyansk, southern Zaporizhzhia region.

“As a result of a rocket attack on the territory of the local hospital, the two-storey building of the maternity ward was destroyed,” they said in a statement. There was “a woman with a newborn baby as well as a doctor” inside the building at the time, they added. The baby died while the woman and doctor were rescued from the rubble, rescuers said. 

Rescuers clear debris of the destroyed two-storey maternity building in the town of Vilnyansk, southern Zaporizhzhia region, on November 23, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Katerina Klochko | AFP | Getty Images

Rescuers rest in front of the destroyed two-storey maternity building in the town of Vilnyansk, southern Zaporizhzhia region, on November 23, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Katerina Klochko | AFP | Getty Images

Rescuers clear debris of the destroyed two-storey maternity building in the town of Vilnyansk, southern Zaporizhzhia region, on November 23, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.\

Katerina Klochko | AFP | Getty Images

— Katerina Klochko | AFP | Getty Images

Ukrainian officials say one killed in Russia missile strike on Kyiv

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy promised that winter shelters with basic services including heat, water and a first-aid kit would be freely available to citizens across the country.

Nurphoto | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Ukrainian authorities said Russian forces launched a new wave of missile strikes on critical infrastructure in its capital city of Kyiv.

A statement from the Kyiv city military administration said a two-story building was damaged as a result of the hit, one person was killed and one was injured. Officials advised residents to stay in shelters until the air alert ends.

— Sam Meredith

European Parliament declares Moscow to be a state sponsor of terrorism

In a largely symbolic move, the European Parliament designated Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, saying deliberate attacks by the Kremlin’s forces and their proxies against civilians in Ukraine constitute war crimes. Russia denies targeting civilians.

European lawmakers, acknowledging that the European Union cannot officially designate states as sponsors of terrorism, called on the bloc to further isolate Moscow on the international stage.

Ukraine’s Zelenskyy had pushed for the U.S. and others to recognize Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism. U.S. President Joe Biden rejected these calls in early September, fearing such a move could have “unintended consequences” for Ukraine and the world.

— Sam Meredith

Ukraine’s Zelenskyy promises shelters with heat and water as winter sets in

Zelenskyy said winter shelters with basic services including heat, water and a first-aid kit would be freely available to citizens across the country.

Handout | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his overnight address that winter shelters with basic services including heat, water and a first-aid kit would be freely available to citizens across the country.

He said these “invincibility” centers would be necessary to support people in the event of further Russian attacks on the country’s energy system.

More than 4,000 centers have been prepared so far, Zelenskyy said. “I am sure [that] by helping each other, we will all be able to get through this winter together,” he added.

— Sam Meredith

Zaporizhzhia governor says newborn killed in Russia missile strike

People watch as the search and rescue operation continues at the site of a Russian missile strike on a two-story apartment building, in Ukraine’s Vilnyansk, in the Zaporizhzhia region.

Future Publishing | Future Publishing | Getty Images

An overnight missile attack on a small hospital maternity ward in southern Ukraine killed a newborn baby, according to the governor of the Zaporizhzhia region.

Oleksandr Starukh said via Telegram that the “huge missiles” were Russian. “Grief fills our hearts,” he added.

CNBC has not been able to independently verify the information.

— Sam Meredith

European Union announces another $2.5 billion in assistance to Ukraine

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivers the State of the European Union address to the European Parliament, in Strasbourg, France, on Sept. 14, 2022.

Yves Herman | Reuters

The European Union has sent another $2.5 billion to help Ukraine, according to the country’s prime minister, Denys Shmyhal.

Shmyhal said in a tweet on Tuesday that the EU “disbursed €2.5 billion [around $2.57 billion] in macro-financial assistance.”


The massive infusion of cash is the latest effort by the EU to help Ukraine fight off the Russian invasion.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen recently announced that the EU will provide up to $18 billion in financial aid in 2023 as the country takes on Russia.

– Brian Schwartz

Treasury issues new guidance on maritime transport of Russian oil ahead of G7 price cap

The Treasury Department issued new guidance regarding the maritime transport of Russian oil ahead of a planned price cap in early December.

The guidance complements the U.K.’s newly-released policies in outlining how domestic service providers can continue carrying seaborne oil while complying with the strategic price cap on Russian oil devised by G7 countries, the E.U. and Australia.

“We’re taking these steps to make it as easy as possible for market participants to implement the price cap policy as of Dec. 5 consistent with the coalition’s goals of allowing Russians to keep foreign oil (in) flow while lowering the Kremlin’s revenues,” a senior Treasury official said.

The price cap is intended to deprive Russia of a funding source to continue its war against Ukraine. It goes into effect on Dec. 5.

—Chelsey Cox

Iran may be ‘guilty of crimes against humanity’ after sending weapons to Russia, British ambassador says

Karen Pierce, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, briefs reporters after the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East (Syria) at the UN Headquarters in New York, December 20, 2019.

Europanewswire/gado | Archive Photos | Getty Images

Iran may be guilty of crimes against humanity as a result of producing weapons for Russia that reportedly will be used in Ukraine, said British Ambassador to the U.S. Karen Pierce in an interview.

“Even at this late stage, I do think the Iranians need to contemplate how they may be guilty of crimes against humanity by supplying these weapons to the Russians,” Pierce told Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC.

The Washington Post reported that Iran has agreed to start to manufacture hundreds of unmanned drones on Russian soil.

It is expected that those weapons to be used in the conflict with Ukraine.

– Brian Schwartz

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